Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Joel, like Billy Joel

Time to share another lesson plan idea! Though I can't take full credit it for it....I stole and combined.    With April being National Poetry Month, I have been trying to bring poetry into not just my English classes more but also my Social Studies classes as well. What a perfect way to do that than with a song like We Didn't Start the Fire.  How many history teachers love the fact that it is a whole list of historical events (even if they might not be really historically significant in everyone's mind).

This week, in U.S. History and Government we started a project that asks the students to figure out what all of the events/people are in the song.  In preparing this lesson I learned that Billy Joel actually wanted to be a history teacher at one point and was shocked when someone told him that nothing happened in the 1950s. So he wrote a song (If you believe Wikipedia that is).  I also learned while preparing this is that he actually does it in order by year through the 1950s and 60s. A great place for the lyrics is here because it has the years listed.  If you watch the music video that Joel made it is really kind of random and the kids won't fully appreciate the I actually show this historical based video.

So what did we actually do? I passed out the lyrics with a bit of an introduction and we watched the video.  Then as influenced by this facts list I split the students into groups and split the lyrics into sections.  Each group researched what each person/event was.  Later on we will write our own lyrics to the song for present day as influenced by this site.

I was a little bit worried about what the kids would is an old song and maybe not readily appreciated.  But they actually thought it was pretty cool and enjoyed the scavenger hunt idea of it.  And they actually asked if they could come up with their own and were pleased that eventually we would.
From the actual video...thank you to 


transplanted said...

LOve it!!! I've got almost every Billy Joel Album ever. Great song, and way to use it!!

Nagzilla said...

My daughter actually had a project with this last year in her history class. They reviewed the whole song, and then each kid had to pick three things to learn more about. She picked children of thalidomide, Belgians in the Congo, and Buddy Holly. Although I think she picked Buddy Holly because I could help her with it- I grew up in the town where his plane crashed, so I've heard about it all my life.
Cool idea!